Teaching the Music Curriculum
Every unit has an overview that details the objectives, teaching sequence, key vocabulary, and terminology. In every unit, key vocabulary and terminology are displayed, defined, and continually revisited. Students are routinely tested on new vocabulary and terminology in 'Memory Platforms' and end of lesson reviews. Students are required to apply new vocabulary and terminology in their responses to music, both oral and written.
Extended tasks demonstrate whether students are accurately embedding the key knowledge through the core of technical, constructive, and critical engagement. For example, through the ‘Hooks and Riffs’ performing and composing tasks in Year 7, and through a ‘head’ arrangement in Year 8.
Lessons are structured to support the I-We-You cycle, and students have regular independent practice. High quality modelled examples are an integral part of lessons, many of which are provided as videos on-screen or as narrated guides for teachers. Extended tasks are often followed by a fully developed model to exemplify the standards students should demonstrate.
Great music teaching is rooted in the language of the subject: musical sound. All learning should centre around the music itself. The subject area can draw extensively on recent understanding in cognitive science to ensure that teaching and learning is impactful. We would expect to see the application of the Rosenshine Principles through:
- ‘Play me/show me’ used in teaching alongside ‘tell me’; so, students can demonstrate embodied musical understanding.
- Teachers always being a musician in the room.
- Whole class modelling is used alongside teacher and pre-prepared models.
- The music department has a culture of practice: both in lessons and beyond the curriculum, and the teaching environment is conducive to effective practice.
- Structured creativity, using scaffolds, models, and creative starting points.
- The co-curricular musical experiences of pupils being evident in the classroom. More guidance on the Rosenshine Principles in Performing Arts can be found here.
So, when we walk into any music lesson, what should we expect to see?
- Learning that results from exposure to musical sounds.
- Opportunities for practical music-making and/or structured listening.
- A very brief ‘Memory Platform’ which revisits fingertip knowledge from the taught curriculum.
- Success exemplified by high-quality models which are practically explored by both the teacher and the class before independent work.
- We do not expect to see students working in practice rooms without clear structure, roles, and accountability.
In addition, in Key Stage 4 lessons we particularly expect to see:
- Students working to their musical strengths in both performance and composition.
- Regular student performances and use of practice diaries, where students are accountable for their level of activity.
- An integrated curriculum where set works and areas of study are explored through critical engagement: listening, performing, and composing.
In Sixth Form music lessons we particularly expect to see:
- Frequent opportunities for independent responses to music; listening should be frequent and allow students to draw on a wide range of high quality and relevant stimuli in their own analysis and creative work.
- Regular student performances and use of practice diaries where appropriate.
Our curriculum is designed to provide a challenge for all learners. Teachers are expected to adapt resources for the needs of their students. Department meeting time should be used to review schemes and lessons before teaching so that all teachers are confident with the content of units and strategies for delivery. Time is well spent on both co- planning, for lessons to be adapted as necessary for the individual needs of learners, and practising elements of lesson delivery such as practical models.
Homework in the subject at Key Stage 3 is a good opportunity to review fingertip knowledge that opens the curriculum to all pupils, such as through the review of knowledge organisers. In Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 we would expect students to be accountable for their level of continued independent practise as part of their homework, alongside revision of classwork and flipped learning exercises such as reading and composition